Oscar Wilde named most quotable figure in the English language

The ‘Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations’ places Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw in first and second place as most quoted

The statue of Oscar Wilde at Merrion sqaure, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

The statue of Oscar Wilde at Merrion sqaure, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

OSCAR Wilde has been named as the “most quotable figure” in the history of the English language. The playwright takes top place on the list of the most memorable lines ever written or spoken in the latest edition of The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations.

With 92 quotes attributed, Wilde beats his next nearest rival, another Irishman, George Bernard Shaw. Noel Coward has 53 entries, Mark Twain 43, which matches the most-quoted woman on the list, Dorothy Parker, also at 43. PG Wodehouse follows at 42 and Woody Allen comes in at a modern 35.

With so many to choose from it’s hard to find favourites but here are five from Oscar that we love. Use the comment box below to suggest your favourites.


1. Of the wallpaper in the room where he was dying: “One of us must go.”


2. “The play was a great success but the audience was a total failure.”


3. “One must have a heart of stone to read of the death of Little Nell without laughing.”


4. “I find that forgiving one’s enemies is a most curious morbid pleasure; perhaps I should check it.”


5. A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?



The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations is published by Oxford University Press and edited by Gyles Brandreth

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